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Stop Sexual Harassment And Abuse In Sport
What is sexual harassment and abuse?

- Sexual harassment and abuse are forms of sex discrimination. They include unwanted, groomed or forced involvement in sexual behaviour, from use of offensive stereotypes based on your gender (gender harassment [see example below]) to sexual jokes, threats, intimidation, approaches or actions of a sexual nature
- In settings where your rights are not acknowledged, or where you are not valued as an individual, it is more likely that sexual harassment and abuse will happen

How does sexual harassment and abuse occur?

 - In most cases, athletes know if they are being sexually harassed and abused because it is humiliating and offensive – in other words it is unwanted
 - But sometimes the affected athletes do not recognize what is happening to them because they become trapped by the abuser through a process called ‘grooming’

Myths about Sexual Abuse in Sport

Stages of grooming/The grooming process in sport

Targetting a potential victim

· observing which athlete is vulnerable
· finding occasions to test her out for secrecy and reliability
· checking out her credentials as a susceptible person
· striking up a friendship
· being nice

Building trust and friendship

· making her feel special
· giving gifts and rewards
· spending time together
· listening
· being consistent
· setting down basic conditions for each meeting
· beginning to bargain “You have to do this, because I have done that”

Developing isolation and control; building loyalty

· refusing the child access to significant others and or demeaning any previous sources of friendship and support
· restricting access to or reliance on parents and carers and non-sport peers
· being inconsistent, building up hopes and joy one moment and then punishing the next to increase the child’s desperation for attention
· checking the child’s commitment through questioning and setting small tests

Initiation of sexual abuse and securing secrecy

· gradual incursion into ambiguous sexual boundaries
· if athlete objects saying “you didn’t mind last time” to entrap her
· invoking co-operation “you owe me/it’s the least you can do”
· invoking guilt “now look what you’ve done”
· offering protection “I won’t tell/it’s our little secret”
· discrediting the victim so she has no choice but to remain “others won’t understand” or “nobody will believe you”
· threatening the victim “if you tell anyone I’ll hurt you/tell others what you’ve done/hurt someone you care about/drop you from the team…"

Source: Brackenridge, C.H. (2001) Spoilsports: Understanding and preventing sexual exploitation in sport. London: Routledge, p. 35. 

How do athletes respond to sexual harassment and abuse?

- When sexual abuse happens, athletes might feel like they’re the only ones experiencing it – but this is actually not true and others may be feeling the same as you
- Respect is a right (why we must prevent SHA)

Why does respect matter?

- Because you have rights under the UN Convention on Human Rights
- You also have rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Rights of the child - UNICEF rights explanation

UNICEF’s Mission: For all the world’s children - Health, Education, Equality, Protection

UNICEF is mandated by the UN General Assembly to advocate for the protection of children’s rights, to help meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to reach their full potential.

It is guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child and strives to establish children’s rights and enduring ethical principles and international standards of behaviour towards children.

See the international helplines

Some of these are rights to:

 - be treated fairly and equally
 - have a say and be listened to
 - your privacy protected
 - health and safety
 - protection from sexual harassment and abuse

What can you expect your sport organization to do to keep you safe?

Download IOC SHA Consensus Statement list of recommendations

Download CPSU page about organisational responsibilities

10 top tips for keeping safe and gaining respect:
    1. Respect the rights of both the athletes and yourself
    2. Know your rights and responsibilities
    3. Inform yourself of the signs of sexual harassment and abuse
    4. Look out for and respond to these signs among your team
    5. If you have any concerns talk with your team chaperone or welfare officer or call a helpline
    6. Do not ask an athlete to go alone with you anywhere
    7. Do not pressure or encourage an athlete to doing anything sexual
    8. Challenge others if they behave inappropriately
    9. Be a good model for others to follow
    10. Have fun with your team and fellow coaches within sensible limits
References :
1. Robinson, L. (1998) Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment and Abuse in Canada’s National Sport, Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Inc. p. 176

2. Leahy, T., Pretty, G. and Tenenbaum, G. (2004) ‘Perpetrator methodology as a predictor of traumatic symptomatology in adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse’, Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 19(5): 521-540.

3. Fasting, K., Brackenridge, C.H. and Walseth, K. (2002) ‘Consequences of sexual harassment in sport’, Journal of Sexual Aggression, 8(2): 37-48.

4. Brackenridge, C.H. (2004) Burden or benefit? The impact of sportscotland’s Child Protection Programme with Governing Bodies of Sport. Research Report 94, Edinburgh: sportscotland.

5. Hartill, M. and Prescott, P. (2007) ‘Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy in British Rugby League’, Child Abuse Review, 16(4): 237-251.

6. Sabo, D., Miller, K. E., Farrell, M. P., Barnes, G. M., and Melnick, M. J. (1998). The Women's Sports Foundation report: Sport and teen pregnancy. East Meadow, NY: The Women's Sports Foundation.

7. Fasting, K., Brackenridge, C.H., Miller, K.E. and Sabo, D. (2008) ‘Participation in college sports and protection from sexual victimization’, International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, Special Issue: Abuse and Harassment in Sport Implications for the Sport Psychology Profession (Edited by T. Leahy), 16(4): 427-441.

8. Nichols, G. (2007) Sport and Crime Prevention: The role of sport in tackling youth crime. London: Routledge.

9. Fasting, K. Brackenridge, C.H. and Sundgot-Borgen, J. (2000) Females, Elite Sports and Sexual Harassment. The Norwegian Women Project 2000. Oslo: Norwegian Olympic Committee.

10. Brackenridge, C.H. (2001) Spoilsports: Understanding and preventing sexual abuse in sport. London: Routledge.

11. Burke, M. (2001) ‘Obeying until it hurts: Coach-athlete relationships’, Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 8(2): 227.

12. Fasting, K., Brackenridge, C.H. and Sundgot-Borgen, J. (2003) ‘Experiences of sexual harassment and abuse amongst Norwegian elite female athletes and non-athletes’, Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 74(1): 74-97.

13. Brackenridge, C.H. and Kirby, S. (1997) ‘Playing safe: Assessing the risk of sexual abuse to elite child athletes’, International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 32(4): 407-418.

14. Collins, T. (in press) ‘Child protection in high performance British gymnastics’, C.H. Brackenridge (Ed.) in Sport, Children’s Rights and Violence Prevention: A sourcebook on global issues and local programmes. UNICEF: Innocenti Research Centre.

15. Leahy, T. Pretty, G. and Tenenbaum, G. (2002) ‘Prevalence of sexual abuse in organised competitive sport in Australia’, Journal of Sexual Aggression, 8(2): 16-36

16. Fasting, K. and Knorre, N. (2005) Women in Sport in the Czech Republic. The Experiences of Female Athletes, Oslo and Prague: Norwegian School of Sport Sciences and Czech Olympic Committee.

17. Fasting, K. Brackenridge, C.H. and Sundgot-Borgen, J. (2000) Females, Elite Sports and Sexual Harassment. The Norwegian Women Project 2000, Oslo, Norwegian Olympic Committee.

18. Vanden Auweele, Y., Opdenacker, J., Vertommen, T., Boen, F., Van Niekerk, L., De Martelaer, K. and De Cuyper, B. (2008) ‘Unwanted sexual experiences in sport: Perceptions and reported prevalence among Flemish female student-athletes’, International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, Special Issue: Abuse and Harassment in Sport Implications for the Sport Psychology Profession (Edited by T. Leahy), 16(4): 354-365.

19. Gervis, M. and Dunn, N. (2004) ‘The emotional abuse of elite child athletes by their coaches’, Child Abuse Review, 13(3): 215-223.

20. Gervis, M. (2009) An Investigation into the Emotional Responses of Child Athletes to their Coaches’ Behaviour from a Child Maltreatment Perspective. Unpublished doctoral thesis, Brunel University, UK.

21. Stirling, A.E., and Kerr, G.A. (2007) ‘Elite female swimmers’ experiences of emotional abuse across time’, Journal of Emotional Abuse, 7(4): 89-323.

22. Kennedy, S. with Grainger, S. (2006) Why I Didn’t Say Anything: The Sheldon Kennedy story. Toronto: Insomniac Press.

23. Sey, J. (2008) Chalked Up: Inside elite gymnastics' merciless coaching, overzealous parents, eating disorders, and elusive Olympic dreams. London: Harper Collins.

24. Heywood, L. (2000) Pretty Good for a Girl: A memoir. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press.

25. Fasting, K., Brackenridge, C.H. and Sundgot-Borgen, J. (2004) ‘Prevalence of sexual harassment among Norwegian female elite athletes in relation to sport type’, International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 39(4): 373-386.

26. Fasting, K., Brackenridge, C.H. and Sundgot-Borgen, J. (2003) ‘Experiences of sexual harassment and abuse amongst Norwegian elite female athletes and non-athletes’, Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 74(1):84-97.

27. Brackenridge, C.H. (2001) Spoilsports: Understanding and preventing sexual abuse in sport. London: Routledge.

28. Fasting, K., Brackenridge, C.H. and Sundgot-Borgen, J. (2004) ‘Prevalence of sexual harassment among Norwegian female elite athletes in relation to sport type’, International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 39(4): 373-386.

29. Fasting, K., Brackenridge, C.H. and Sundgot-Borgen, J. (2004) ‘Prevalence of sexual harassment among Norwegian female elite athletes in relation to sport type’, International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 39(4): 373-386.

30. Johnston, J. and Holman, M (2004) Making the Team: Inside the world of sports initiations and hazing. Toronto: Canadian Scholar's Press, Inc.

31. Robinson, L. (1998) Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment and Abuse in Canada’s National Sport, Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Inc.

32. Fasting, K., Brackenridge, C.H. and Sundgot-Borgen, J. (2003) ‘Experiences of sexual harassment and abuse amongst Norwegian elite female athletes and non-athletes’, Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 74(1):84-97.

33. Fasting, K., Brackenridge, C.H. and Sundgot-Borgen, J. (2003) ‘Experiences of sexual harassment and abuse amongst Norwegian elite female athletes and non-athletes’, Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 74(1):84-97.

34. Wintrup, G. (ongoing) Sport Initiation and Hazing in UK Higher Education Institutions. Doctoral research project, Brunel University, UK.

35. Nuwer, H. (2009) “Wasted”: The death of Gavin Britton, Exeter University. March 26th, http://britishhazing.blogspot.com/2009/03/wasted-death-of-gavin-britton-exeter.html accessed Feb 18 2010.

36. Brackenridge, C.H. (2001) Spoilsports: Understanding and preventing sexual exploitation in sport. London: Routledge.

37. Dunblane Lord Cullen’s Public Enquiry into the Dunblane Tragedy, Scottish Office, Jun 1996.

38. Elliott, M. (2004) ‘Female sexual abuse of children: ‘the ultimate taboo’’, www.kidscape.org.uk/assets/.../Femalesexualabuseofchildren.pdf accessed 18 Feb 2010.

39. Nuwer, F. (2009) High School History of Hazing. http://hazing.hanknuwer.com/hs2.html accessed 18 Feb 2010.

40. Shire, J., Brackenridge, C.H. and Fuller, M. (2000) ‘Changing positions: the sexual politics of a women’s field hockey team’, Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal, 9(1): 35-64.

41. Kirby, S., Greaves, L. and Hankivsky, O. (2000) The Dome of Silence: Sexual harassment and abuse in sport. London: Zed Books.

42. Brackenridge, C.H. (2001) Spoilsports: Understanding and preventing sexual abuse in sport. London: Routledge.

43. Gervis, M. (2009) An Investigation into the Emotional Responses of Child Athletes to their Coaches’ Behaviour from a Child Maltreatment Perspective. Unpublished doctoral thesis, Brunel University, UK.

44. Stirling, A. and Kerr, G. (2008) ‘Defining and categorizing emotional abuse in sport’, European Journal of Sport Science, 8(4): 173-181.

45. Ryan, J. (1995) Little Girls in Pretty Boxes: The making and breaking of elite gymnasts and figure skaters. New York: Doubleday.

46. Agassi, A. (2009) Open: An autobiography. London: Harper Collins.

47. Comaneci, N. (2004) Letters to a Young Gymnast : The art of mentoring. New York : Basic Books.

48. Sey, J. (2008) Chalked Up: Inside elite gymnastics' merciless coaching, overzealous parents, eating disorders, and elusive Olympic dreams. London: Harper Collins.

49. Myers, J. and Barrett, B. (2002) In at the Deep End: A new insight for all sports from analysis of child abuse within swimming. NSPCC/ASA.

50. Brackenridge, C.H., Bringer, J.D. and Bishopp, D. (2005) ‘Managing cases of abuse in sport’, Child Abuse Review, 14(4): 259-274.

51. Cense, M. (2004) ‘Dutch policies on sexual abuse in sport: Measures and effects’, Consensus Conference on Ethics in Youth Sport, Ghent, 24th Sept.

52. Brackenridge, C.H. (2002) ‘So what?” Attitudes of the voluntary sector towards child protection in sports clubs’, Managing Leisure – An International Journal, 7(2): 103-124.

53. Summers, D. (2000) Organisational Responses to Child Protection in Voluntary Sector Sport. Unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Bristol.

54. MacPhail, A., Kirk, D. and Eley, D. (2003) ‘Listening to Young People’s Voices: Youth sports leaders - advice on facilitating participation in sport’, European Physical Education Review, 9(1): 57-73.

55. Brackenridge, C., Bringer, J. D., Cockburn, C., Nutt, G., Pawlaczek, Z. and Russell, K. (2004) ‘Children in Football: Seen but not heard’, Soccer & Society, 5(1): 43-60.

56. British Athletes Commission (2010) British Athletes Commission. http://www.britishathletes.org/ accessed 18 Feb 2010.

57. International Sailing Federation (2010) ISAF Athletes Commission. http://www.sailing.org/sailors/ac-role.php accessed 18 Feb 2010.
What is gender harassment?

 - Gender harassment means unwelcome behaviour related to someone’s gender (male or female) and that has the effect or purpose of offending personal dignity
 - One example may be where one person treats someone of the other gender in a humiliating way through words or actions

How does gender harassment affect your performance?

 - Gender harassment affects team cohesion which, if disrupted, can impact on performance
 - Because it negatively affects athletes’ well being it can ultimately lead to impaired performance and early sport drop-out

How does gender harassment affect your health?

 - Gender harassment negatively affects the psychological health of the athlete potentially resulting in mood disorders, anxiety disorders, substance abuse and self harm practices

Case study « Maria »

Maria is an 18 year old rower.  She has recently achieved her ambition to be selected for the National team which will attend the Olympic Games qualifying event.  Maria is a gifted athlete with tremendous potential and is well respected in her sport. Maria lives with her parents and 5 older brothers.

While at the Olympic Qualifier, Giani, the team manager has put Maria in charge of bringing the team’s bag lunches from the hotel to the rowing venue.  On the first day of training while rowing, Georgio her coach yells across the water to her: “Hey babe - faster, faster! You can do it sweetie!” 

The training session leaves the team physically exhausted. While they are leaving the rowing basin, one of the men’s team forces Maria to carry his bag back to the hotel. Subsequently, while recovering from training, at the team hotel, Maria gets a telephone call from Giani, the team manager.  “Ciao Bella – The men’s team need their laundry done. Do mine at the same time. We need it tonight before tomorrow’s practice.” 

Actions
What could help Maria?

- Knowing that she has a right to be protected
- Knowing that it is not her fault
- Knowing that she is not alone and that there are people to listen to her/ask for help
- Talking to an adult who she trusts (options are: welfare officer, team doctor, team chaperone, nurse, parent, older sibling, friend or teacher)
- Using a helpline

What could Maria’s teammates do if they are worried about her?

- Tell an adult that they trust about their concerns
 - Seek help for their own feelings
 - Challenge inappropriate behaviour by their teammates

What can you do to protect yourself from gender harassment in sport?

 - Understand your rights and responsibilities
 - Follow your organisation’s procedures if there are any
 - Avoid using gender stereotypes yourself
 - Know what to do to prevent and report concerns
 - Look out for each other
 - Challenge inappropriate behaviour by others that is based on gender stereotypes
 - Share your concerns with someone else

What is sexual abuse?

 - Sexual abuse is behaviour towards an individual or group that involves sexualised verbal, non-verbal or physical behaviour, whether intended or unintended, legal or illegal, that is based upon an abuse of power and trust 
 - Sexual abuse involves any sexual activity where consent is not or cannot be given
 - Sexual abuse often involves a process known as ‘grooming’

How is grooming done?
Stages of grooming/The grooming process in sport

Targetting a potential victim

·      observing which athlete is vulnerable
·      finding occasions to test her out for secrecy and reliability
·      checking out her credentials as a susceptible person
·      striking up a friendship
·      being nice

Building trust and friendship

 

·      making her feel special
·      giving gifts and rewards
·      spending time together
·      listening
·      being consistent
·      setting down basic conditions for each meeting
·      beginning to bargain “You have to do this, because I have done that” 

Developing isolation and control; building loyalty

·      refusing the child access to significant others and or demeaning any previous sources of friendship and support
·      restricting access to or reliance on parents and carers and non-sport peers
·      being inconsistent, building up hopes and joy one moment and then punishing the next to increase the child’s desperation for attention
·      checking the child’s commitment through questioning and setting small tests

Initiation of  sexual abuse and securing secrecy

·      gradual incursion into ambiguous sexual boundaries
·      if athlete objects saying “you didn’t mind last time” to entrap her
·      invoking co-operation “you owe me/it’s the least you can do”
·      invoking guilt “now look what you’ve done”
·      offering protection “I won’t tell/it’s our little secret”
·      discrediting the victim so she has no choice but to remain “others won’t understand” or “nobody will believe you”
·      threatening the victim “if you tell anyone I’ll hurt you/tell others what you’ve done/hurt someone you care about/drop you from the team…”

Source: Brackenridge, C.H. (2001) Spoilsports: Understanding and preventing sexual exploitation in sport. London: Routledge, p. 35.


 - The abuser slowly builds up trust and cooperation from the athlete before starting to abuse them 
 - Grooming often involves manipulation and entrapment of the athlete

 

The abusive relationship

Types of Power/Sources of Power

Type

 Basis within sport

 Example

Expert power

Ability in the sport

Demonstrating a performance technique

Referent power

Knowledge of sport and its internal workings

Knowing where and how to network to recruit a new player

Legitimate power

Official appointment

Made head coach or a team by governing body of the sport

Coercive power

Physical or emotional force applied to make athletes compliant

Bullying by shouting at an athlete

Charismatic power/

Personal power

Attractive and persuasive personality

Charming athletes to train harder

Enabling power

Ability to facilitate

Giving athletes a say in selection meetings

Reward power

Ability to give or withhold rewards

Selecting or cutting a player from the team

Positional power

Occupying a high social status

Being widely respected because of the credibility of the job

Resource power

Intellectual, technical or physical resources

Having a wide repertoire of tactics

Relationship power

Relative standing in a social system

Being a male coach in a women’s sport

Information power

Knowing useful information

Knowing scouting information about opposition athletes

Sources: After French and Raven (1959), and Tomlinson and Strachan (1996)
Source: Quotations taken from Brackenridge, C.H. (2001) Spoilsports: Understanding and preventing sexual exploitation in sport, London: Routledge, p.83.

- There is a power difference in an athlete’s relationship with members of their entourage (coaches, scientific and medical staff, administrators etc.) because athletes are dependent on these experts and usually have complete trust in them. If misused, this power difference can lead to exploitative sexual relationships with athletes
- Coach-athlete relationships at the elite level of competitive sport require a significant amount of time to be spent together in an emotionally intense environment. This situation has the potential to put the athlete at risk of isolation within a controlling relationship where his/her power and right to make decisions is undermined
- In some cases, team mates or other young athletes can be sexual abusers.

The risk of sexual and abuse is greater when there is:

- a lack of protection (such as child protection policies and procedures, education and training),
- high motivation by the abuser
- a high level of athlete vulnerability (especially in relation to young age and maturation)

Sexual harassment and abuse happen in all sports and at all levels. Prevalence appears to be higher in elite sport. Members of the athlete’s entourage or peer athletes who are in positions of power and authority appear to be the majority of abusers. Males are more often reported as abusers than females. Both female and male athletes can be victims

How does sexual abuse affect your health?

- Sexual abuse in sport seriously and negatively affects athletes’ physical and psychological health because they may feel hurt, humiliated, upset, or lacking control
- It can also result in sleeping problems, lack of concentration and impaired performance and can lead to athlete drop-out
- Psychosomatic illnesses, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, self harm and suicide are some of the serious health consequences
- Sexual abuse also damages relationships with coaches in general and causes a reduction in trust by athletes in coaches

What effect does sexual abuse have on teammates?

 - Sexual abuse can undermine team cohesiveness because it sets up jealousies, and apparent favouritism, thus negatively affecting performance
- Team mates who are aware of the problem and feel powerless often suffer from psychological stress and drop-out early from their sport

Case study « Sheila »

Sheila is a 17 year old woman. She is a talented 1500m runner and hopes to make the Olympic team this year. She is selected for the qualifying squad and moves city to be near the training facility and coach, Tom.

Tom praises her performances saying that if she follows his directions he will make her dreams come true.  It is obvious that the coach likes Sheila, giving her encouraging comments and praise. Initially, she is happy with how her coaching relationship is going. But later Tom gives her special attention which her teammates notice and comment on.

Sheila is not achieving well at school and one day Tom offers to tutor her in her school work after practice in his office.  He drives her home after the tutoring session and buys her dinner on the way home.  After a few weeks, Tom changes the tutoring sessions from being held at his coach’s office to his home in the evenings. 

The night before the 1500m qualifying race, Tom calls Sheila to his hotel room for a “special pre-competition talk”.  While sitting on the bed together, he puts his arm around her. She begins to feel uncomfortable as he places his hand on her thigh. He says that if she performs special favours for him, he will ensure her success tomorrow.

As Sheila leaves the room, she passes by the team manager and her team mates.  Although visibly crying and upset, they turn around and walk away. 

Case study « Helga »

Helga is a 16 year old discus thrower on the National Youth team. Helga just recently travelled to the National training centre from her home town for a training camp to prepare for an important competition.  Trond, 17 years old, is a hammer throw athlete also on the National Youth team.  As they are both throwing athletes, Helga and Trond are scheduled to train together both in the weight room and on the field. At first they are friends and she accepts him on her Facebook site. But every day during the stretching session, Helga notices that Trond repeatedly stares at her breasts, making her feel uncomfortable. He starts to send her lots of inappropriate text messages and to post sexual comments about her on his Facebook site.

One day, as he passes her on the way into the weight room, Trond comments in passing, “Let’s work out hard today – keep that butt nice and firm!”  Helga feels herself turn visibly red.

During the next training sessions, Helga tries to keep her distance from Trond.  One evening however, when she leaves the stadium to go the subway, Trond surprises her as she passes by a wall.  He had been waiting for her to walk by.   When Helga passes by, Trond says, “My parents are away – come to my house and we can play. I know that you want to”

Actions
What could help an athlete like Helga or Sheila?

Knowing that she has a right to be protected
 - Knowing that it is not her fault
 - Knowing that she is not alone and that there are people to listen to her/ask for help
 - Talking to an adult who she trusts (such as: welfare officer, team doctor, team chaperone, nurse, parent, older sibling, friend or teacher)
 - Using a helpline

What could Helga’s teammates do if they are worried about her?

- Understand that it is not their fault and they should not feel ashamed or guilty
- Tell an adult that they trust about their concerns
- Seek help for their own feelings

What can you do to protect yourself from sexual abuse in sport?

- Understand your rights and responsibilities
- Follow your organisation’s procedures if there are any
- Know what to do to prevent and report concerns
- Look out for each other
- Challenge inappropriate behaviour by others
- Share your concerns with someone else

As a coach what could I do to help Sheila or Helga?

- Listen calmly to her if she wishes to talk
- Tell her that she has a right to be protected
- Tell her that it is not her fault and that she is not alone
- Tell her that you may have to report the problem to someone else who can help
- Learn where and how to report athletes’ disclosures of sexual abuse (such as: the contact for a team chaperone, welfare officer, doctor, nurse, or a helpline)
- Challenge inappropriate behaviour by other coaches or athletes
- Report colleagues or athletes who you suspect or know are maltreating athletes

Follow the highest possible standards of behaviour and ethics in your coaching

Testimonies of how coaches groom athletes

I can see now that it’s a pattern … there were locker room scenes where he would turn out the lights and [he’d] say “Oh let’s all get undressed” and then, you know, “We’ll turn the lights back on again after we’re dressed”. So it was titillating to us. We thought it was so exciting but it was very seemingly innocent, there was no touching or anything and we couldn’t see each other, so starting with very small things like that. Or late at night on a moonless night we would skinny dip and, again, we would stay in our separate corners of the pool and he began playing games, I guess, that involved taking off clothes. Then he would drive us home at night, my two good friends and me, and he would drop off each of them at their homes first and then I was the last one. And we would be in the middle of some good conversation and we would go park somewhere and just talk and … you know not much more happened than that the first summer. So he was gaining my trust and feeling me out in an emotional way leading to feeling me out in a physical way, and all that … happened very slowly with his hand on my thigh, you know, maybe every night for weeks and then eventually progressing to kissing so … I see now that he was very scared, he was scared he would end up in jail for statutory rape … and he was going very slowly in order to gain my trust and make sure I was not going to turn him in.

(Female victim of sexual abuse in sport)
What is homophobia?

Homophobia is the unfounded fear of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people

What does homophobic behaviour look like?

Slurs, jokes, insults and even physical attacks based on someone’s perceived sexual orientation

How does homophobia affect you as an athletes (individual and team)?

- It can cause a loss of confidence and lead to you under-performing
- If it is not tackled it can damage team or squad cohesion
- It can negatively impact your psychological health potentially causing anxiety, depression, substance abuse or self harm behaviours

Case study « Jack »

Jack is an 18 yr old swimmer who is in his last year of high school. He is a butterfly swimmer who excels at the 200m event, holding the national record in his age category.  Younger swimmers look up to Jack admiring his success in the pool.  Jack also excels in his academic studies: he is the top of his class, he has been on the school student council for the past two years, and every year he leads a group of students in a volunteer project at the local homeless shelter. He has a supportive family who are proud of his sports accomplishments.  His father was an elite professional basketball player.  His team mates start to question why Jack does not have a girlfriend.

Secretly Jack is struggling with his sexual orientation.  He is increasingly becoming aware that he is attracted to other boys.  This is creating anxiety for him and he begins to isolate himself. One day at school, one of the football players calls Jack “gay boy”.  His school mates laugh at him.  He can hardly wait to go home to escape the teasing.

At home, Jack’s father has already heard from another parent about the incident at school.  He is furious and begins to yell at Jack as he walks in the door.  Jack’s father says that he has shamed the family. Jack runs downstairs and slams the door.

At practice that night, it is obvious to Jack that everyone has already heard of the ‘gay boy’ incident from school. Tonight is the night that the team captain is being chosen for the upcoming National competition next week.  Jack is hoping to be chosen:  he is a natural leader and is an obvious choice.  The team voting occurs and at the end of the practice, the team captain is announced:  it is not Jack.

Jack also learns that night that one of his male team mates has told the coach that he does not want to room with Jack at the competition next week. None of the boys on the team will volunteer to be his roommate.

Actions
What could help Jack?

Knowing that he has a right to be protected
- Knowing that it is not his fault
- Knowing that he is not alone and that there are people to listen to him/ask for help
- Talking to an adult who he trusts (such as: welfare officer, team doctor, team chaperone, nurse, parent, older sibling, friend or teacher)
- Using a helpline

What could Jack’s teammates do if they are worried about him?

Tell an adult that they trust about their concerns
- Seek help for their own feelings
- Seek help if they think they may be homophobic

How can athletes protect themselves from homophobia in sport?

Follow their organisation’s procedures if there are any
- Know their rights and responsibilities
- Know what to do to prevent and report concerns
- Look out for each other
- Challenge inappropriate behaviour by others
- Share their concerns with someone else

Coach-specific case study « Kurt »

Kurt is the head coach for the Under 17 male National Football Squad.  He is a tough coach but he is renowned for the results that his teams achieve.  He is a strict disciplinarian and takes pride in being a successful achiever. Kurt demands the same high level of respect, obedience and work ethic in his football team.  He works the team hard and pushes them to their limit.  His training sessions are run with military precision. 

Ryk is a 17 year old top goal keeper on the team and is one of Kurt’s favourite players.  Ryk is hard working and a high achiever – both on the field and at school.  He is a polite and obedient young man.

One day while enjoying the beach in Cape Town, Kurt sees Ryk sitting on a park bench holding hands with another young man.  They are obviously enjoying each other’s company.  They move behind a tree and Kurt sees Ryk kiss the man on the cheek. 

The next day at practice, Ryk arrives to a cold reception.  In front of the entire team, Kurt yells at Ryk and calls him derogatory names.  He tells him to leave his football pitch.

As a coach what could Kurt do?

Recognise that athletes have the right to freedom from persecution on the basis of sexual orientation - which is a fundamental human right
- Not discriminate against the athlete on the basis of sexual orientation.
- Avoid making judgements about the personal lives of his athletes
- Challenge his own prejudices by engaging in professional education about diversity in sport
- Foster an atmosphere of mutual respect in the team
- Make sure that the team has a policy or statement of intent that demonstrates a commitment to create a safe and mutually respectful environment and that sets out procedures to promote athlete rights, well-being and protection

What is hazing?

- Hazing involves abusive initiation rituals that often have sexual aspects and in which newcomers are targeted by teammates
- Hazing involves a power difference between team mates, usually based on seniority

How does hazing happen?

- Hazing is seen as an ‘initiation’ or rite of passage for new team members to become accepted into the team
- It often occurs where there is a lack of adult supervision
- It often occurs in conjunction with alcohol consumption
- It often involves unwanted sexual activity
- It is often wrongly tolerated by the sport organisation as part of its tradition

How might hazing affect you?

- Hazing can result in damaged performance, or even lead to drop-out because it damages self-esteem
- Hazing may cause serious health consequences such as psychosomatic illnesses, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, self harm or even suicide 

Case study “Javier”

17 year old Javier has just learned that he has made the Junior National Team in which sport?.  He lives far away from the national training centre and is excited also to be in the big city realizing his dream. 

He arrives at the training camp the night before practices are to begin.  He receives a hand-written letter from Juan Manuel, the team captain, to come to his room for a ‘welcome to the team party’ tonight.

Upon arrival at the room, he is greeted by the other new members and 5 of the team veterans.  There are no coaches or other adults from the team present. He is handed a beer and notices a large beer barrel on the hotel desk.  The music is loud and several  team members are jamming in the corner. 

Juan Manuel is obviously in charge distributing drinks and orchestrating activities. He makes all the newcomers participate in a beer drinking contest as well as a nude race down the hotel hallway. The other team veterans begin to clap and chant the team cheer.

Javier has never experienced anything like this before and he feels uncomfortable.

As more beer is consumed the noise level also increases. At this point, Juan Manuel announces a special team initiation ritual.  There is a knock on the door and a young, near-naked woman walks into the room.  She starts to dance provocatively to the music and touches each of the new team members in a sexual way. Javier is feeling increasingly uncomfortable and he tries to move as far away from the woman as possible ...

Actions
What could help Javier?

- Knowing that he has a right to be protected
- Knowing that it is not his fault
- Knowing that he is not alone and that there are people to listen to him/ask for help
- Talking to an adult who he trusts (such as: welfare officer, team doctor, team chaperone, nurse, parent, older sibling, friend or teacher)
- Using a helpline 
- Teaming up with the other new team members

What could Javier’s teammates do if they are worried?

- Tell an adult that they trust about their concerns
- Seek help for their own feelings
- Seek advice if they think they are at risk of behaving abusively
- Challenge inappropriate behaviour by their teammates
 

How can athletes protect themselves from hazing in sport?

-
Follow their organisation’s procedures if there are any
- Know their rights and responsibilities
- Know what to do to prevent and report concerns
- Look out for each other
- Enjoy sensible initiations but avoid being drawn into abuse initiations/hazing
- Challenge inappropriate behaviour by others
- Share their concerns with someone else

Coach-specific actions
As a coach what could I do to help Javier?

- Listen calmly to him if he wishes to talk
- Tell him that he has a right to be protected
- Tell him that it is not his fault and that he is not alone
- Tell him that you may have to report the problem to someone else who can help
- Learn where and how to report athletes’ disclosures of hazing (such as: the contact for a team chaperone, welfare officer, doctor, nurse, or a helpline
- Challenge inappropriate behaviour by other coaches or athletes
- Report colleagues or athletes who you suspect or know are maltreating athletes
- Follow the highest possible standards of behaviour and ethics in your coaching

Confidentiality aspect, e.g. towards team mates

What is bystanding?

- Bystanding is having suspicions of or knowledge about sexual abuse to an athlete but failing to do anything about it
- Passive attitudes/non-intervention, denial and/or silence by people in positions of power in sport (particularly bystanders) increases the psychological harm done by sexual harassment and abuse
- Lack of bystander action also creates the impression among victims that sexually harassing and abusive behaviours are legally and socially acceptable and/or that those in sport are powerless to speak out or do anything to stop it

Case study “Gao”

Gao is an 18 yr old rookie on the Senior National Handball team.  She is excited to have been selected and she quickly becomes an integral part of the team, both on and off the court.

The team members work hard in pre-season training and bond well. Their coach, Ling, expects a successful competitive season.  The tournament season begins well with two wins in continental qualifying tournaments leading up to the World Championships. 

One day after practice, Gao asks to have a meeting with Ling in her office.   Gao arrives late, appears uncomfortable and is fidgety in the chair.  She is unable to express herself clearly.  Eventually, she begins to cry. Ling encourages Gao to tell her what is going on.  Finally, Gao reveals to Ling that Xhen, the team captain, has been sexually abusing her since her arrival at the team training centre.

Actions
What should Ling do now?

-Keep calm 
- Listen and hear but ask no leading questions
- Acknowledge the athlete’s courage in disclosing
- Assure the athlete this is not her fault
- Avoid judging the abuser
- Keep an accurate and factual written record
- Observe confidentiality but explain that she may have to tell another adult

What should be done now for Gao?

- The sport organisation’s policy and procedures for athlete welfare should be implemented
- Gao’s disclosure should be reported what has happened to the welfare officer, sport organisation and local statutory agencies (for social services/the police)
- She should be referred to an appropriate external organization for counselling and support support
- She should be kept informed of the investigation and how it is progressing

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